Reggae Teen, Michelin Tenney’s acrylic on canvas art was inspired by reggae music and youth. Courtesy photo

As a young girl, Michaelina Tenney observed and learned as her mother, Mary Ellen Pinches taught art classes. But her real motivation to become a painter came after a serious motor vehicle accident.

She listened to African music during her recovery. “The colors are so uplifting, the bright yellows, greens and reds. I painted myself to happiness,” she said.

Tenney uses a palette knife in acrylic to create her African-themed art, the southwest Native American Kokopelli figure, wine art and abstract nudes. Her studio is in the basement of her Lake Minterwood home, a picturesque location. “I experiment a lot and I think I get better as I go,” she said. “There is a community of fellow artists and I am learning more about technique and style.”

Tenney called on Raphael Murrell, a Key Peninsula artist, to help her learn how to paint African facial features. “It is nice to get together with other artists and promote art to the community as a whole,” she said. “Art is to promote an emotion. It saddens me that art is being taken out of schools. It is a positive way for the kids to express themselves, which promotes learning in other areas.”

One of Tenney’s paintings took third place at a juried art show in the Proctor District of Tacoma and was sold that day. “I realized that the canvasses started to overwhelm my house and I started to look for venues to display and sell my work,” she said. “If you don’t peddle, you don’t paint.”

Tenney started an art group for other artists who didn’t want to promote their own artwork and found a location in Kitsap County, but she was called back to a job in contract negotiations. She now works as an adjunct professor in communications, which allows her time to paint and to travel. She has sold four paintings in the past year, part of more than 100 that she’s “peddled.” “I keep prices really low so anyone can enjoy the art. I don’t want this painting in my house. I want it in yours,” she said.

Tenney will exhibit some of her work at Blend Wine Shop in Key Center  on March 5, with a wine tasting and artist reception on the evening of Friday, March 11.

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